Friday, April 19, 2024

Samsung Pays $8 Billion for Harman Kardan, JBL Etc Adding Car Connectivity and Hi End Headphones to Roster


Samsung is buying the company we might think of as Harman Kardan for $8 billion. That includes AKG Audio and JBL Audio, two of the best names in hi end audio. Those Quincy Jones headphones I love so much go with the sale, as do the AKG N60 Noise Cancelers that you can’t travel without.

Harman is an American company founded by the late Sidney Harman. You may recall that Sidney bought Newsweek before he died, and Tina Brown edited it. Then Sidney, who was 92, died (what a surprise!), and his family sold Newsweek to Barry Diller for a dollar and a dream. Sidney’s widow, Jane, was a U.S. congresswoman.

Eight billion dollars doesn’t sound like much for all those brands. Harman includes a lot of high end audio for home use. The issue here is that millenials don’t know from stereo systems. They plop an iPhone or maybe an iPod into a Bluetooth speaker, and voila! Luckily, JBL makes really great Bluetooth speakers. The other thing Harman makes is headphones, and they are quite good. The AKG line has gotten better and better. (I rely on them as much as I do Grado.)

Samsung is more interested in auto connectivity, as cars become more and more computerized. Harman has been developing that end for years. I just hope the AKG Harman quality won’t suffer but I think Samsung will realize that’s very important.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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